Tuesday, November 23, 2010

What's your carriage made of?

This post originally posted at Reflections in Hindsight. What an honor for another writer to give you an invite to share your work. I am forever humbled by God's mercies and gifts. Jennifer Slattery invited me to share a story on marriage. You can find my original post Is It Midnight Already? at Reflections In Hindsight. I encourage you to take a peek at Reflections.Spend a bit of time there. I promise you will leave blessed. It is a blog filled with amazing writers ready to share blessings, struggles and so much more with you!! You will find a little bit of everything there and much to bless your heart. I wanted to repost here just in case you missed it!!

As little girls we find ourselves dreaming as though we are Cinderella waiting for our prince to come. We dream of that white gown we will fit in perfectly. We see the aisle we are walking down and it seems just a short walk to our prince. We envision our home as a little white house, a picket fence, surrounded by two children and a dog. Many times we dream of what our parents shared or sometimes, what they did not.

The carriage picks you up, your dress is white and your prince is standing ready to take your hand, but we never really dream past midnight do we? I know I didn't. We never ponder over the struggle. We never envision a trial coming. If we are not prepared, what do we do? Sometimes we lose sight of the carriage that picked us up. We no longer see a carriage, but a pumpkin escorting us down a bumpy road into the darkness. We want to scream at the driver and say, "Excuse me, what happened to my carriage? What happened to my perfect night? I think your going the wrong way!!" We didn't sign up for a pumpkin, but a carriage to carry us through life.

My husband and I have been married for nineteen years now. Sometimes it seems like yesterday we married and others it seems like forever. There are days the road seems smooth and others I think my carriage must have a flat, because the road is way too bumpy. Between us we have five children. My husband came with two and I too brought my two beautiful daughters into our marriage. Together we had our son, Jacob. He was the child that seemed to tie our family together. I must say when we were raising our children, we didn't use words as, step, half or mine. We were simply a family. Was it always easy? No, not on your life, but we found ways to make it work. We put our children first. Now, some might think that is how you should begin your marriage, but my friends, you must put the Lord first, then your marriage. The Lord is the foundation in which everything else builds. Next, your marriage must stand strong. It is this very relationship that your children will witness and learn from. A happy and healthy marriage makes happy children and a healthy family.

We worked very hard giving everything we had in raising our children. I believe raising children is the hardest job in the world next to building a successful marriage. They both take 100%. You can't just give a little and expect a lot. Somewhere in the midst of raising our children our marriage suffered. In placing our children first we were often placed on the back burner and left there. I would focus on teaching our children and our home as my husband focused on working. He was out of town much as he drove across the country. Over time this takes a toll on your marriage and even yourself. Not only do we need to take time for our spouse, but for ourselves.

It's doing those special things with each other. It's sharing a quiet dinner or a walk in the park. It's taking even just a few minutes a day to hold each other's hand and just dream together. It's knocking yourself out for your husband and he too, knocking himself out for you. It's making time for one another. Too often we make time for what we want and forget making time for what is important. When we don't make time for one another our marriage can only suffer and ours did.

In looking back I know I was a wonderful mother. I had a close bond with my children, but somehow I was pushing my husband out of view. I wasn't even meaning to, but it was happening. Have you too been there? I know when my husband and I would try to plan a night away, one of our children would need us. We would put our bags back in the closets and place our child first. There is nothing wrong with that, but over time we stopped planning. We stopped dreaming and became more so of room mates than husband and wife. It is a trap that is easy to fall into and one that is even harder to grow out of.

We are now almost empty nesters. That is kind of scary, but kind of exciting all the same. We have raised our children and now it is our turn to renew, rebuild, and catch hold of a new wind to set our sails upon. A home filled with sounds is now almost quiet. What a change in just nineteen years. But through these years in our ups and downs, the Lord has been molding us. We have been through some trials I never thought we would escape, but the Lord was good to see us through each one, only making us stronger and wiser. Humbling our hearts and allowing us to see what is really important.

In the last two years my husband has been laid off. He lost a job he thought he would retire from. It set us on another course of trial, only this one would strain our marriage even more so. Stress and unknown are deadly combinations that can wreck havoc on a marriage already unsteady. But this trial brought me to my knees like no other before it. I was afraid this trial would break us. Satan loves to entice us with fear. He loves to separate us to where we feel alone. I couldn't see past my own pain as my husband was suffering from depression. We forgot how to reach out to one another. We forgot to put one another first. We lost sight of that carriage. Somehow midnight seemed to last forever, but for the grace of God He has brought us back together. See, He was doing a work in both of us. We were not communicating so we did not know what the other's heart was feeling, until someone just had to take that first step and reach out.

I pray for my husband every day as he too prays for me. We have learned not to hold in our feelings, but to share everything. We have learned to let other things go and take time for one another. Marriage is a gift from the Lord. May we not forget and lose heart, but go to the Lord in prayer asking Him to strengthen our marriage. To build our home on His foundation and give us a heart for Him. I learned I cannot look to my husband to complete me. I cannot look to my husband for each need to fill my soul. Only the Lord can meet those needs. When I can find who I am through the Lord I am free to be the woman God has called me to be for my husband.

If you are going through a difficult passage don't give up. It is through those trials that we learn so very much about ourselves and each other. Struggles have a way of bringing us together when we take our eyes off ourselves and simply place them upon the Lord. He will meet our needs and bring healing when we reach out to Him, making Him the Lord of our home. I believe it is the Lord who will help us find that very slipper we lost along the way.

"Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband." Ephesians 5:22-33

"Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails." 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a

"Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done in selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others." Philippians 2:1-4

Sometimes we feel midnight as already come and gone. The Lord Jesus Christ can change that pumpkin into a beautiful coach just by letting Him in the drivers seat. During this season of hope may we renew, refocus and refresh our relationships that once started with just a spark. The Lord can fireworks just when you think midnight has arrived!! With faith, hope and love we cannot go wrong. 1 Corinthians 13

Today my husband and I still face adversity with his job loss. We are choosing not to focus on this, but to see the blessings before us. I am so thankful for my husband. As we face each day we never know what tomorrow will bring. He could have that perfect job tomorrow or we could still be struggling to make it. We must remember those vows of richer or poorer in health and sickness. It is a journey my friends. Whatever tomorrow brings I know the Lord will be leading the way.


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